Local postal worker faces probation after stealing mail

July 29, 2013

NEW — 4:25 p.m. July 29, 2013

An Issaquah postal worker, who pleaded guilty to opening mail and stealing at least $500 and 30-50 gift cards, will not face jail time.

Last fall, 45-year-old Annie Wei was caught with opened mail in her purse after questions about lost gift cards and money along her route led to an investigation.

On July 26, she was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and $585 in restitution fines after being charged in U.S. District Court with one federal misdemeanor count of delay or destruction of mail.

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Costco faces gender bias lawsuit from employees

October 2, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco faces a gender bias lawsuit from workers, after a federal judge ruled the lawsuit can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco certified a class, or group, of plaintiffs Sept. 25. The group includes about 700 women challenging the company’s system for promotions to management posts. Costco has denied the plaintiffs’ claims.

In 2004, employees sued Costco after plaintiffs claimed the largest warehouse chain in the United States limited promotions to female employees by failing to post job openings.

Courts put the case on hold as a gender-discrimination case against Wal-Mart headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011, justices threw out the case, Dukes v. Wal-Mart.

Chen’s 86-page order granted plaintiffs’ attorneys the right to proceed in the case Ellis v. Costco. No court date has yet been set in the case.

Former Issaquah School District bus driver set to appear in court for child porn

May 22, 2012

The former Issaquah School District substitute bus driver and former Eastside Catholic High School teacher involved in a child pornography case is due in court soon.

Andrew Bernard Rekdahl, 29, faces child pornography charges after federal prosecutors said the Carnation resident shared explicit images and videos of boys online from his home computer.

The preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 24 at the Seattle federal courthouse before Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue.

Department of Homeland Security agents arrested Rekdahl at a school district facility May 10 after a monthslong sting operation.

Rekdahl faces one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

In January, an agent noticed a user named Hboyandy sharing explicit videos through a file-sharing website. Then, using a publicly available software program, the agent identified the IP address of Rekdahl’s computer. The investigation continued until the May 10 arrest.

Federal agents said no evidence exists to indicate any inappropriate or illegal activities occurred as Rekdahl worked for the district.

District administrators asked parents concerned about the incident to email DriverConcerns@issaquah.wednet.edu.

State joins complaint against mortgage services

April 10, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and other legal officials from throughout the United States joined the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to protest misconduct by the largest mortgage services in the nation.

The complaint against the banks, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is a major step toward finalizing the biggest consumer protection settlement in U.S. history. The complaint claims the financial institutions’ misconduct “resulted in the issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members’ and other homeowners’ rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.”

The complaint follows a joint investigation and a $25 billion settlement announced in February.

The parties also submitted a series of proposed federal court orders to formalize the settlements.

The settlement could provide $648 million in benefits to Washington homeowners. The state is still deciding how to best distribute $44 million for foreclosure relief and other programs.

In addition to the consumer relief, the proposed settlement agreements include comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing practices.

Darigold manager gets probation for Issaquah Creek spill

December 6, 2011

The engineering manager responsible for a fish-killing ammonia spill from the downtown Darigold dairy has been sentenced to probation and community service for the October 2009 incident.

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Alice Theiler sentenced Darigold employee Gerald N. Marsland to two years probation and 70 hours of community service for the Issaquah Creek spill. Theiler also imposed a $2,000 fine on Marsland.

Darigold is required to pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed as a part of a plea agreement announced in June.

Prosecutors also said Marsland directed repairs and failed to prevent the spill. Prosecutors charged Marsland for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Marsland’s attorney asked for his client to be sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

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Judge rules against Salmon Days ‘expression areas’

October 4, 2011

City and Salmon Days Festival officials could not prevent a man from distributing religious literature at the Oct. 1-2 festival, a federal judge ruled days before the event.

Paul Ascherl handed out more than 600 Christian tracts to festivalgoers on both days. The leafleting came after Judge Marsha J. Pechman ruled the “safety and congestion concerns” related to the Salmon Days leafleting ban “are likely speculative,” and issued a preliminary injunction to stop city and festival officials from enforcing the ban if Ascherl decided to distribute religious literature.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Ascherl said Issaquah police officers threatened to arrest him for handing out similar literature last year in places outside a pair of downtown “expression areas” on festival grounds. In the August lawsuit, attorneys said Ascherl, a Snoqualmie resident, relocated to the “expression areas” after police and a festival official intervened.

Issaquah officials created a city ordinance 11 years ago to address concerns about public safety as festival attendance climbed. In addition to banning leafleting in most areas at Salmon Days, the ordinance also prohibits protests, unscheduled entertainment or nonprofit activities outside of booths and designated areas. Officials also raised concerns about leaflets leading to additional litter.

In a Sept. 21 ruling, Pechman dismissed concerns about unscheduled activities as a cause for congestion.

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Issaquah man faces state, federal charges in ATM skimming scheme

September 13, 2011

Prosecutors said a local man arrested in Eastern Washington for collecting card information at a Pasco ATM is connected to a scheme responsible for skimming more than $500,000 at ATMs across the West.

Issaquah resident Mihai Elekes, 34, faces state and federal charges because prosecutors said he placed a device on a Chase Bank ATM to read customers’ debit and credit card numbers.

The state charge in Franklin County Superior Court is for the unlawful factoring of transactions charge related to the ATM skimming incident.

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City speed cameras cut number of violations

March 31, 2010

NEW — 1:30 p.m. March 31, 2010

Cameras installed along Southeast Second Avenue to deter speeders cut the number of violations during their first year of operation, city data shows.

The city recorded about 110 violations per day in May 2009 — about a month after speeders started to receive $124 fines for exceeding the 20 mph limit. By January 2010, the number of violations had fallen to about 40 per day — a drop of about 64 percent. The city released the data Wednesday.

Workers installed the cameras last March in the school zone near Clark Elementary School, Issaquah Middle School, Issaquah High School and Tiger Mountain Community High School. For several weeks after the installation, speeders received warnings. In mid April of last year, the city started penalizing violators.

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Thai Ginger owner sentenced for immigration scheme

February 23, 2010

A judge sentenced the owner of the Thai Ginger restaurant chain, Issaquah resident Varee Bradford, to six months in prison last week for her role in what authorities described as a long-running immigration scam. Read more

Issaquah salon owner sentenced to 13 months for injecting customers with phony Botox

January 19, 2010

A U.S. District Court judge sentenced Bellevue beauty salon owner and Issaquah resident Xin “Faith” He to 13 months in prison last week. Authorities said He injected customers with counterfeit Botox and Restylane. Read more

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